Part 3: Build your House in ’09

The Roof

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve worked on our “house”.  First we laid the foundation with the Word of God, http://voiceoftruthblog.com/?p=5 next we built the walls through the Power of Prayer http://voiceoftruthblog.com/?p=26 .  Now it’s time to put the roof on and start to tie the house together.  The roof of our house will be built through the worship of our Lord and Savior.  For this discussion, I want to focus on the act of “corporate” worship and posture of our heart as we individually worship throughout our daily activities.  So what is worship, where do we worship and how do we go about it?  Why is it so important?  One author says this about worship:

“Worship in our time has been captured by the tourist mind set. Worship is understood as a visit to an attractive site to be made when we have adequate leisure. For some it is a weekly jaunt to church. For others, it’s occasional visits to special services. Some, with a bent for Christian entertainment and sacred diversion, plan their lives around special events like retreats, rallies and conferences. We go to see a new personality, to hear a new truth, to get a new experience and so, somehow, expand our otherwise humdrum lives. We’ll try anything — until something else comes along.”

Does the tourist mindset describe your worship?  Hopefully you’re not just going through the motions, dragging yourself into church once or twice a week because you feel obligated.  No, instead it should be an opportunity to come together as a church body and worship God.  Just as we mentioned in the Prayer blog, worship is all about the posture of your heart.  17th century author Matthew Henry describes it this way, “It is not enough for us to be where God is worshipped, if we do not ourselves worship him, and that not with bodily exercise only, which profits little, but with the heart.”  Our heart should be defined by gladness and joy, seeking to worship the Lord in the “splendor of His holiness”. Psalm 29:2 Psalm 96:9 Psalm 100:2  We read in Hebrews that not only should we be filled with joy, but likewise present ourselves before the Lord with a reverent heart.  Hebrews 12:28-29 “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire.'”  Because of this attitude of our hearts, worship need not be confined to a building or structure, although this is primarily where our corporate worship takes place.  In Acts 17:24-25 we learn that, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.”  When we come together in corporate worship, the church “body” not the church “building” serves as the place of worship.  After all, the church body is the body of Christ. 

When we unite in the House of the Lord for corporate worship, with the correct posture of heart, the Bible gives us some insight into how to act or what should take place.  Our worship is a time to glorify the Lord through song, prayer, and to receive instruction from the Word of God.  I Corinthians 14:26 describes it the following way, “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.”  But is this worship merely confined to one day of the week?  I think one common misconception is that a “church service” is the only time of worship; before and after service we continue on with our daily lives.  I’ve been guilty of this attitude in the past.  We sit through an hour or two of service, feel somewhat convicted for the sins in our lives or the distance that’s come between us and God due to that sin and then we leave going on with our “old self” until the next week’s service.  Worship simply cannot be a week to week “activity”.  Early 20th century preacher/author A.W. Tozer illustrates it this way, “If you do not worship God seven days a week, you do not worship Him on one day a week. There is no such thing known in heaven as Sunday worship unless it is accompanied by Monday worship and Tuesday worship and so on.”  That’s pretty a profound statement.  Think about exactly what that statement says.  More importantly, think about it next time you feel worship is only on Sunday mornings.

Worshipping the Lord throughout our daily lives can sometimes be difficult because we allow ourselves to be consumed with work and routine activities.  But what I think the problem for so many of us is perspective.  Rather than trying to create a specific time for structured worship, we should focus on creating an atmosphere of worship.  Much like the prayer discussion, I think we can worship without ceasing when this atmosphere is created.  What I mean by this is that it’s ok to go to that meeting or write that paper, bathe the kids, or prepare dinner.  But when we create the atmosphere of worship, we can carry a song of worship in our hearts, praise the Lord when we’re walking to that meeting, or pray just to praise Him.  Hey there’s a concept – praying without asking for anything, but just to glorify the name of the Almighty!

There is no doubt that a lack of worship in our lives, just like prayer, can significantly impact our walk with God.  A house cannot have just a foundation and still stand.  It has to also have strong walls, and a well-built roof that pulls everything together.  Each part is dependent on the other.  It’s this “roof” of worship that allows us to glorify the Lord in song and praise and to also receive His instructions for our lives.  Worship can be corporate with the church body, but should also be something individual that’s not only on Sunday, but everyday.  Andrew W. Blackwood offers this reflection, “The time has come for a revival of public worship as the finest of the fine arts…While there is a call for strong preaching there is even a greater need for uplifting worship.”  The Bible tells us that in everything we do, do all for the glory of the Lord I Corinthians 10:31, this includes worship.  In closing, I want to leave you with the divinely inspired words of the Apostle Paul, Romans 12:1 “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Have a Blessed Day!

‘But the Greatest of these is Love’

Quick, name the central, resounding theme of the Bible.  What’s your guess?  If you said love, you’re right!  Maybe you thought the central them was God sending His Son Jesus to die for our sins.  Well you’d also be right, but God’s motivation for this, was love.  John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

When the disciples were gathered around Jesus they asked him, which is the greatest commandment?  Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Matthew 22:37-40 The two greatest commandments are for us to love.  In fact, it’s here where we see the ancient Greek word for Love, agapeo or Agape.  The word translated in English literally means unconditional love.  Let that sink in for a minute… unconditional… no matter what, God still loves us.  Romans 8:38-39 says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  There is no separating God’s love from us.  The Apostle Paul speaks so strongly about love in I Corinthians 13:3, “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.”  It’s in this chapter we find the eloquent portrayal of love used many times in weddings, in I Corinthians 13:4-8 and are told in verse 13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Love is such a strong, overflowing concept in the Bible that it occurs 697 times in the New International Version.  Compare that to texts used by world religions, such as Islam, which mentions love (hubb) 69 times in the Koran.  Of the 99 different names given to “Allah”, there are no direct references to Allahu Muhibba or “God is Love”.  The Hindu religion has the word kama, but it refers to pleasurable (sexual) love as personified by one of their many gods.  They also have prema and bhakta as references to love, but none of which reflect an unconditional love of god towards man.  Buddhism has benevolent love, but it requires self-acceptance and is not reflective of a godly love.   It’s only in the Bible where we read of God’s love for us.  Take this to heart: The God of the universe loves you unconditionally!  I John 4:8 tells us, “Whoever does not love God does not know God, because God is love.”  All roads lead to the same God?  You decide, but I’ll place my faith in the God of unconditional love.

I’m certainly guilty of holding back love from people for one reason or another, but why is it so important for Christians to express love to everyone? The Bible teaches us to “Do everything in love” I Corinthians 16:4 , that love must be sincere Romans 12:9-10, and even goes so far as to say “love surpasses knowledge”. Ephesians 3:19  But perhaps the most important inspirational message for us to love one another, can be found in a song from when I was a kid.  That song had a chorus of “They’ll know we are Christians by our love“.  What a powerful witness to those who aren’t Christians, that they’ll know us by our love. 

I know with Valentine’s Day upon us, everything is all about “love” and we express that through flowers, cards, candy, and other gifts, but I just wanted to remind you of what true love is and that the Bible says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” I John 4:10

Have a Blessed Day!

 

 

 

Take the High Road

 

Have you ever been faced with a situation of retaliation or revenge toward someone in your life? How did you respond? It’s often easy for us to get locked into a mentality of spitefulness when this happens, but the Bible tells us otherwise. Job 42:10 says, “After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before.” Note that it was after Job had prayed for his friends that God made him prosperous. These weren’t friends that carried him through his trials and tribulations, these were “friends” that criticized and ridiculed him, encouraging him to curse God. Job’s response was to pray for them. John 15:13 reminds us that, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” In its context, this passage is clearly in reference to Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross; for those who ridiculed, betrayed, beat, even murdered Him (see Romans 5:8).  Think about the following actions next time you’re at the cross roads of the low road of retaliation or the high road of love:

 Low Road

  1. Revenge and Retaliation when wronged
  2. Plays the same game as others
  3. Guided by emotions; up and down
  4. Reactive: lives no better than anyone else

High Road

  1. Unconditional love and forgiveness
  2. Refuses to play games; lives by principles
  3. Guided by character and values
  4. Pro-active: lives above merely human standards

Have a Blessed Day!

 

Ephesians 4:15 "Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ"